The San Diego Loyal will resume the United Soccer League (USL) season Saturday, July 11 at Real Monarch Salt Lake City.
The previous two times the Loyal played a game was their home opener March 7 in front of thousands of spirited fans at University of San Diego Torero Stadium, then on March 11 on the road at Tacoma, with no fans in the stands. A few days after the match in Tacoma, the sports world was shutdown due to health and safe precautions.
Now, the Loyal are back on the practice field getting ready to return to real game action. It’s a past couple of months that even Loyal Head Coach Landon Donovan finds hard to fathom.
“If someone had told me six months ago that it would be July and we would’ve played 2 games, had a global pandemic and dealt with all the issues we’ve dealt with, I would’ve said you’re crazy, there’s no way that would happen. I don’t think Hollywood would believe a script like that, but it’s where we are and it’s the reality," he said.
And that new reality involves Loyal players and coaches wearing masks before and after practice, and undergoing weekly COVID-19 testing.
“I am not going to lie, until those results come in every Tuesday afternoon, I am pretty nervous, so far we’ve been pretty good,” Donovan said.
So far, so good, but Donovan knows one player can mess it up for the whole team, that’s why the Loyal are preaching player safety protocols at practice and in their personal lives.
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“If you want to jeopardize this season, which is part of your career and everybody else’s, that’s a really stupid thing to do. Don’t be the person who does something stupid to get infected, which then affects the entire team, so just be smart in everything you’re doing. It’s two or three months of being really diligent and really smart, so you get to do what you love, if nobody does anything stupid, then we all get to play the game we love and have a season.”
When the USL season resumes this Saturday, it provides a chance to return to a little bit of normalcy in a world that’s been anything but normal.
“Now we have the opportunity to get back out and provide entertainment, hopefully a reprieve from what’s going on in the world, so we can enjoy sports again, and we take that seriously. Our guys are ready for challenge and this is an opportunity for a lot of San Diegans to continue learning about San Diego Loyal soccer club.”
The Loyal play their first home game since the USL season restart Sunday, July 19 against Los Angeles Galaxy II.